To many running the Boston Marathon is not a desire. But to many others it is a DREAM.
This years Boston Marathon was more than a DREAM it was an HONOR.
With the family all sleeping, I woke up in darkness the night before the race. As I laid awake, I sought God to close my eyes and give me peace.
5:25AM comes quick. I awoke briskly.I grabbed each item I had neatly set out the night before. My Prayer Pants. My eyes fixed on all those praying for me. I felt "covered in prayers" as I slipped them on over my running shorts. I felt very calm.
Leaving the boys sleeping in the hotel, Andy drove me to the train station.
Andy was more nervous than I was. I considered giving Andy my prayer pants!
I got on the "T" at Riverside, destination Park Street. Sitting across from me was an older man. He was a teacher from Buffalo running the marathon. This guy reminded me of myself. He was so nervous. This year was his 1st year running the marathon, officially. Several years ago he had bandit ran it. He was very kind. We discussed our breakfast. I told him I normally eat a banana but we forgot to purchase one. He pulled out a banana out of his bag and insisted I have it.
|Bandit Boston guy who gave me a Banana from Buffalo!|
When the train stopped at our destination, we separated.
The Boston busses were lined up and down the street to transport us to Hopkinton. This is where the race begins.
The busses filled up quickly. A guy from the Carolina's sat next to me. He chatted about his running adventures all the way to our destination.
|Sitting on my lil red blanket|
|Coming in from Busses|
Surprisingly calm, I found my way to Athletes village, where all the runners wait until it was their time to start.
It was about 8:30am. I took my favorite lil red down blanket to keep warm and sat down by myself in the sun. Runners quickly filled every empty patch of grass.
I was trying to plan my hydration, fuel and port-a-john trip perfectly. I headed to the port-a-johns hoping I was not going to early. I heard people whispering about my prayer pants. Then runners were asking to take pictures of them. Several runners wanted to know about all the names.
I sent a text out to a runner I knew would be running the marathon.
She responded and I found her in the thousands of people. I met Melissa C a few years back at the Detroit Marathon. We follow each others blog. It was her Birthday!
|Christine, Melissa and I|
It was already 10am!
They were calling my bib color and wave to line up and head to the start. I hated to take my prayer pants off. I could feel the prayers were covering me. I have never had so much peace before a race.
I put my address on my pants as I handed the volunteer collecting clothing both my pants and my favorite red blanket for donation.
|The Starting line.|
We headed to the starting line. I ditched my last shirt as I felt the sun beating down on me. It was surprisingly warm out for this time in the morning.
Next thing I knew I was at the starting line hitting my Garmin to "Start".
The first part of my run I ran with my HEAD. I had to get my head in the game. I needed to maintain a 7:55 pace to have a PR.
I was really struggling nailing my pace. I kept running 7:45, 7:50, and everything in between. The Boston Marathon is not for the weak at heart. It is a very challenging course. You have to run it with more than your legs. Even though it is a downward course it has several hills scattered throughout. The downhill route makes it difficult to stay on pace.
At mile 9, I told myself to just get to mile 10.
At mile 10, the heat was baking my skin. I was wearing 2 tank tops. I tried to wiggle my arms out of the tank that was closest to my skin. Feeling like an escape artist, I twisted and wiggled. I pulling it through the neck holes of the tank top I wanted to wear. Once I had it, I tossed it to the side of the road. Catching my breath, I looked at the names on my arm and prayed for them at their dedicated mile.
At mile 12, I began running with my LEGS. I thought of my niece, Heather. She sent me a card that she wrote " right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot!".
The crowds were amazing. There was not a spot void of spectators. "Go Anita GO!" the crowd rallied. Sign after sign "BOSTON STRONG". People were waving those same words on flags. And the cow bells and noise makers will have my head buzzing for days!
Families came out to support the runners with water and orange slices.
The kids were my favorite. These little hands were eager for you to notice them. They think you are a "rock star". They just want a smile. When you slap their hands you would hear them, "Mama Mama, she slapped my hand!"
If you were a spectator, it was the perfect day to cheer runners on. 67 degrees and sunny.
However, if you were a runner, the temperatures were not as welcoming.
As I approached mile 13, my legs were getting heavy. I was taking fluids at every station. Both Gatorade and water. Dehydration will kick your teeth in. And it is almost impossible to come out of that. This course was going to leave its mark on me already.
At mile 13, I told myself "Just get to 16".
Some where between 13 and 16, a runner called my name. I turned towards the voice on my right. There was a woman with a beautiful smile who seemed to know me. "Anita, I follow your blog, I admire your faith." I was stunned. How did she know it was me? "Liz" said she read my name on my arm. I was speechless and exhausted. I am not sure my response back to her, I was trying to be positive but I think I said something really stupid. I do remember her words of personal injury. She was recovering from a fractured hip. As I ran on, I asked God to give her comfort over that hip and strength to finish the course.
I was praying tears at mile 16. I had held my pace up until this point. I was seriously scanning the crowds for my family. "Please God, let my family be close."
At Mile 17, I could see Andy towering over the viewers. He was a sight for sore eyes and sore everything! His eyes caught mine. I dug deep for a disguising smile. I didn't want him to see how bad I was feeling. I just needed to touch him. I really wanted to fall into his arms. The boys were smiling and cheering me on. I love that feeling "Team Harless." gives.
Within seconds they were gone. The joy of seeing my family lasted about a mile! I was hoping it would carry me a little bit longer!
"Please God, Hear the prayers of those praying for me." I searched my mind for who was praying for me at that time. "ANTHONY". Anthony knew where the hills were and where I would need prayer. He had ran the Marathon last year.
I managed to hold my pace for the first hill. The second hill came like the devil. My pace began to slow. The sun was hot and my legs were numb.
Just make it to mile 20. Get to Heartbreak Hill. Last year, I cried all the way up that hill as I thought of losing my Ariel.
There she was, the looming never ending hill. She took my breath away. I wanted to fall on my knees. I remembered Mesha. I dedicated Heartbreak Hill for her and her recent heartbreak. "You run this hill for Mesha, DON"T you DARE stop Anita." I yelled at myself. People were slowing down and many were walking up. "Dig DEEP" I cried to myself. My body wanted to quit, I could feel myself hugging her as I climbed up the hill. I could hear myself coaxing her to have Faith. To have Hope and to never Give UP. I accepted the agony for her, wishing I could take hers away. But ultimately, trying to point her to Christ for her broken heart. God gave me the strength to get up that hill for her. There was nothing left in me.
At mile 22, I thought I was dying. The crowds were amazing. Cheers were surrounding me, only I could barely respond to tell them. "Thank you". "Anita, your almost there!"
"Anita you are doing Great!!" With all my energy I would try and lift my thumb up or smile to say "Thanks". Runners began to drop all around me. Many runners were in tears with cramping. The medical tents were full. The water and Gatorade stations were even having a hard time keeping up. Many runners were walking. I saw several runners fall over and one girl being assisted with seizures.
"DRINK, DRINK Anita"
The visions scared me to drink more. I had been having dizzy spells since mile 20. My ears were ringing and I kept trying to "Shake it off".
I started to walk the water stations in fear I would be needing assistance myself.
No matter what I couldn't stop. I knew that people were tracking me. Andy and mom would be so worried if I was not close to my projected time. I had so many praying for me and supporting me. I couldn't quit running. I had to give everything and I had a beg for more.
At mile 23, I think I was pretty much dying. I took advantage of the decline of the course to get me back on pace.
The crowds were unimaginable. Thousands of people line both sides of the streets. My legs felt like they had gone through a meet tenderizer. I had no feeling from my knees to my ankles. There were moments I couldn't see or hear the crowd, it was like a mirage. I could hear them but I had no sound.
At mile 24, I had no idea how I was going to finish the last 2.2 miles. I didn't even have enough energy to cry.
"Right foot, left foot, right foot, left foot."
I told myself it was just pain. I can run through it. I needed to get control of my mind. "It's just pain, Anita, Run through it, but don't stop!"
|This was taken a couple days before the marathon as we were site seeing.|
I saw the BIG Old CITGO sign to my left. 1 mile to go. I couldn't get my legs to move any faster. "Strong Finish" I told myself. I felt like I was going nowhere fast. "GO Anita GO" the crowds cheered. They were out there supporting the runners. I cried to myself "I am, I am going".
As I made that final left hand turn, I looked up and saw a familiar face. It was Bart Yasso. Like we were best buddies I screamed "BART!" He had this huge smile on his face as he screamed back "GO Anita GO!"
I kept my eyes peeled on the finish line. I could hardly see it, I could hardly see anything. But one thing I did see was Victory. I was not going to stop. I was actually able to pass some runners as I focused on the finish line.
I made it!! Dear Sweet Jesus, I made it! I pulled my hands in the air and smiled for the cameras, as I crossed the finish line!
Volunteers were everywhere. I couldn't speak. I was still standing. "Are You OK?" they to ask me. I just bobbed my head. A few feet later another volunteer came to me with a very concerned look, "Are you Ok?, do you need assistance?" I mumbled "No, Water." She pointed down a little further.
I just wanted water and my Medal. I wanted my prize. I couldn't wait for them to put that big beautiful blue and yellow medal around my neck.
It was as amazing as I thought it would be as they placed the medal over my head. I smiled with Victory.
MY OFFICIAL TIME 3:30:49
It was pretty easy to find my family this year. The family area is very organized. I actually walked by my section 2 times! My legs were not the only thing that was struggling to work, apparently my brain was too.
I gave the Boston marathon everything I had. I did not have a PR. But I did give my "Boston Strongest."
I gave my Heart to Boston. I gave my blood sweat, tears and toe nails!
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith;"
2 Timothy 4:7